“Haksar, Manmohan and Sonia”

My article “Haksar, Manmohan and Sonia” appeared today as an op-ed with the New Indian Express http://t.co/bRnQI1hrwy

 

In the summer of 1973, my father, then with India’s embassy in Paris, brought home two visiting colleagues separately, to advise me before I headed to undergraduate studies at the LSE. One was G Parthasarathi, India’s envoy in Karachi during the 1965 war [CORRECTION Nov 2015: Parthasarathi had left shortly before the war; Kewal Singh arrived as the war started] when my father had been acting head in Dhaka; G P was marvelous, strictly advising I do the hardest things I could find at LSE, namely mathematical economics. The other visitor was Manmohan Singh.

 

Manmohan, then in his early 40s, asked to meet me alone, and we plunged quickly into a heated debate about the demerits (as I saw them) and merits (as he saw them) of the USSR and its “planning”. He was taken aback by the lad, and at the end of his 40-minute visit said he would write to his friend Amartya Sen at LSE about me. An ambiguous, hardly laudatory letter of introduction to Amartya arrived, which I duly but reluctantly carried; I wish I had kept a copy but xeroxing was not yet a word back then.

 

When I told my father about the debate, he to my surprise said Manmohan was extremely highly thought of in government circles, had degrees from both Cambridge and Oxford, and was expected to become prime minister of India some day!

 

That prediction, more than 30 years before Manmohan did become India’s PM, was almost certainly a reflection of the opinion of P N Haksar, still at the height of his power as Indira Gandhi’s right-hand man. In a 2005 interview with Mark Tully, Manmohan acknowledged Haksar being his mentor in politics who brought him into government in early 1971. My father himself was sent by Haksar to the Paris embassy in anticipation of Indira’s November 1971 visit on her diplomatic tour before the Bangladesh War.

 

Fast forward to the afternoon of March 22, 1991, at Delhi’s Andhra Bhavan. I had met Rajiv Gandhi through S S Ray on September 18, 1990, and given him results of a perestroika-for-India project I had led at the University of Hawaii since 1986. On September 25, 1990, Rajiv formed a group consisting of Gen K V Krishna Rao, M K Rasgotra, V Krishnamurthy, S Pitroda and myself to write a modern agenda and manifesto for elections Rajiv said he expected by April 1991. Krishnamurthy later brought in A M Khusro to the group, and all these persons were present at the March 22 meeting—when I was unexpectedly challenged by Rasgotra demanding to know what Manmohan Singh would say about all this liberalisation and efficiency (and public goods, etc.) I had proposed.

 

That was the first mention of Manmohan in post-Indira politics. I replied I did not know what he would say but knew he had been on a project for Julius Nyerere, that the main thing was to get the world to see the Congress at least knew its economics and wanted to improve India’s woeful credit-standing.

 

The next day, on the lawns of 10 Jan Path, Rajiv launched Krishna Rao’s book titled Prepare or Perish. Rajiv was introduced on the occasion by none other than P N Haksar. I talked to Haksar briefly, mentioning his sending my father to Paris in 1971 and my father’s old friends the Kaul brothers, the elder being Haksar’s brother-in-law and the younger being Manmohan’s first boss in government. Haksar seemed unwell but was clearly delighted to have returned to favour after falling out with Indira during Sanjay’s regime.

 

The March 22, 1991, meeting was also one of several occasions when I, a complete layman on security issues and new to Delhi and in my 30s, warned as vehemently as I could that Rajiv seemed to my layman’s eyes extremely vulnerable to assassination. Absolutely nothing was done in response by anyone, other than saying I should probably speak to “Madame”!

 

One man’s response, in 2007 and 2014 publications, has been to deny he knew me at all and claim the group came to exist without me—when in fact it was created by Rajiv as a sounding board one week after I gave him the academic project results I had led since 1986. This same man had excitedly revealed to me on September 25, 1990, that his claim to a doctoral degree originated in the USSR in the 1970s; he has always concealed his experiences in that country. After Rajiv’s assassination, he rose to much background influence with Sonia, and one of his protégés is now apparently influential with Mr Modi too.

 

Sonia Gandhi I met only once to convey my condolences in December 1991, and give her a copy of a tape of conversations between Rajiv and myself during the Gulf war in January that year. She seemed a taciturn figure in deep grief, and apparently continued with the seven-year period of mourning traditional in her culture of origin.

 

Natwar Singh and Sanjaya Baru, in their recent publications, may have allowed basic misinterpretations of events to distract from what may be informative in their experience.

 

Natwar has said Haksar was central in May 1991 in the move (purportedly on behalf of Rajiv’s newly bereaved widow) to first ask S D Sharma to take the PM’s job, which Sharma declined. If so, this was a failed attempt by the “Haksar axis” of unelected non-politicians to maintain control of events. Natwar claims it was only then Sonia chose P V N Rao. In reality, P V N R was a highly respected leader who, though due to retire, was the acknowledged senior member in a group of regional leaders including S S Ray, Sharad Pawar and others. The Haksar axis failed to stop P V N R’s rise to the top job, though it managed to get Haksar’s protégé to become finance minister. Sonia was hardly involved.

 

As for Manmohan becoming Sonia’s PM, a senior Lok Sabha Congress leader with PM ambitions himself told me of his own accord in December 2001 that it was certain she would not take the top job herself and it was generally presumed Manmohan would get one term—the denouement of the Haksarian prediction my father made to me in 1973 in Paris. Contrary to Baru’s claim or even Manmohan’s own self-knowledge, it was never any “accident” that he became PM of India.

 

Finally on the issue of files being shown, the man named as the conduit is someone I became related to in law back in 1981. He and Manmohan, too, would have been sticklers for the rules. The real issue is this: given the 1970s brand of Soviet influence on the Congress, would anyone have said it was Kosygin as PM who did or could ever wield more power than Brezhnev the party boss? Of course not. The same with Manmohan and Sonia in India.

 

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My Seventy Four Articles, Books, Notes Etc on Kashmir, Pakistan, & of course, India (plus my undelivered Lahore lectures)

2) Law, Justice and Jammu & Kashmir (2006)

https://independentindian.com/2006/07/03/law-justice-and-jk/

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=152464726125

Monday, October 5, 2009

3) Solving Kashmir: On an Application of Reason (2005)
https://independentindian.com/2005/12/03/solving-kashmir-on-an-application-of-reason/

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=152462776125

Monday, October 5, 2009

4) My (armchair) experience of the 1999 Kargil war (Or, How the Kargil effort got a little help from a desktop)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=388161476125

Thursday, April 29, 2010

5) Understanding Pakistan (2006)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=152348161125

Monday, October 5, 2009

6) Pakistan’s Allies (2006)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=152345826125

Monday, October 5, 2009

7) History of Jammu & Kashmir

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=152343836125

Monday, October 5, 2009

8) from 25 years ago,

indvol

pakvol

 

9) Talking to my student and friend Amir Malik about Pakistan and its problems

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150297082781126

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10) My thanks to Mr Singh for seeing the optimality of my Kashmir solution

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150271489571126

Sunday, September 4, 2011

11) Zafrullah, my father, and the three frigates: there was no massacre of the Hindu Sindhi refugees in Karachi in 1947

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150265008366126

Saturday, August 27, 2011

12) Conversation with Mr Birinder R Singh about my Kashmir solution

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150259831611126

Saturday, August 20, 2011

13) On the Hurriyat’s falsification of history

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150258949946126

Friday, August 19, 2011

14) Letter from a young Pashtun whose grandfathers were in the 1947 invasion of Kashmir (which the Hurriyat says never happened)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150258851821126

Friday, August 19, 2011

15) More on my solution

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150258100876126

Thursday, August 18, 2011

16  ) A Hurriyat/Taliban Islamist emirate in the Valley subject to an Indian blockade would likely face famine.

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150257700231126

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

17) There is no Kashmiri nationality and there never has been in the modern era of international law

https://www.facebook.com/notes/subroto-roy/there-is-no-kashmiri-nationality-and-there-never-has-been-in-the-modern-era-of-i/10150255815456126

Monday, August 15, 2011

18) Of the Flag of Pakistan, and the Union Jack, and the Flag of India — August 14-15 1947

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150255301456126

Sunday, August 14, 2011

19) Talking about Kashmir in 1947 to Ralph Coti

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150254871116126

Saturday, August 13, 2011

20) Conversation with Prof. Bhim Singh about 1947

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150254495896126

Saturday, August 13, 2011

21) The LOC represents the division of ownerless, sovereignless territory won by military conquest by either side…

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150245816611126

Monday, August 1, 2011

22) Talking to Mr Tauseef

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150245521131126

Monday, August 1, 2011

23) J&K had ceased to exist as an entity in international law by August 15 1947, at most by October 22 1947

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150244867021126

Sunday, July 31, 2011

24) Would someone be kind enough to tell me which freedoms Indian Kashmiris are being deprived of?

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150243323381126

Friday, July 29, 2011

25) Kunan Poshpora: I would say the evidence reported by the Verghese Committee itself was enough to indicate there had been rape 28 July 2011

https://www.facebook.com/notes/subroto-roy/kunan-poshpora-i-would-say-the-evidence-reported-by-the-verghese-committee-itsel/10150242580476126

26) Talking to Mr Rameez Makhdoomi about Kashmir

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150241973371126

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

27) And, as you well know, General Hasnain is both Muslim and Kashmiri, besides being the Commanding Officer of 15 Corps.

http://www.facebook.com/subyroy?sk=notes&s=40

Friday, July 22, 2011

28) Kashmir needs a Coroner’s Office!

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150238284741126

Friday, July 22, 2011

29) A slogan for Kashmir: No exaggerations, no hallucinations, no cover-ups please: Just the plain facts & accountability

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150238136556126

Friday, July 22, 2011

30) Towards a Spatial Model of Kashmir’s Political History

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150234599731126

Sunday, July 17, 2011

31) Why did Allama Iqbal say “India is the greatest Muslim country in the world…”?

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150233148866126

Friday, July 15, 2011

32) Conversation with Mr Arif

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150230793806126

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

33) Omar Qayoom Bhat: A Victim of State Repression in J&K

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150229389496126

Monday, July 11, 2011

34) Good and evil in Kashmir over more than a millennium…

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150217168656126

Sunday, June 26, 2011

35) Letter to Mr Zargar (Continued)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150212034496126

June 23, 2011

36) From the Official Indian Army website re Human Rights Violations

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150210741356126

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

37) A Facebook Discussion on Kashmir with the Lahore Oxford & Cambridge Society

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150208871201126

Sunday, June 19, 2011

38) Answering two central questions on the Kashmir Problem

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150202054326126

Friday, June 10, 2011

39) Some articles on Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150201498846126

Friday, June 10, 2011

40) Lar ke lenge Pakistan? Khun se lenge Pakistan?

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150195065706126

Thursday, June 2, 2011

41) On Pakistan & Questions of the Nature & Jurisprudence of Polities

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150165301016126

Saturday, April 30, 2011

42) On “state involvement” (January 2009)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?

on Friday, April 22, 2011

43) My four main 2005-06 articles on the existence of a unique, stable solution to Kashmir

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150155305266126

Sunday, April 17, 2011

44) On the present state of the Pakistan-India dialogue

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150140448906126

Thursday, March 31, 2011

45) Mixed messages (from a Dec 2008 post on Pakistan just after the Mumbai massacres)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150117696731126

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

46) New Foreign Policy? “Kiss Up, Kick Down”? (October 2006)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150098854806126

Friday, March 4, 2011

47) Conversations with Kashmiris: An Ongoing Facebook Note

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=489267761125

Saturday, January 22, 2011

48) On Pakistan and the Theory & Practice of the Islamic State, 1949, 1954

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=486039761125

Saturday, January 15, 2011

49) A Modern Military (2006)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=483556931125

Monday, January 10, 2011

50) India’s Muslim Voices: Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan (1892-1942), Punjab Prime Minister 1941

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=476020171125

Monday, December 27, 2010

51) Pre-Partition Indian Secularism Case-Study: Fuzlul Huq and Manindranath Roy

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=445015731125

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

52) A Brief Note on Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and the Pashtuns 1971-2010

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=414500306125

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

53) On the Existence of a Unique and Stable Solution to the Jammu & Kashmir Problem that is Lawful, Just and Economically Efficient

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=407478886125

Monday, July 5, 2010

54) Seventy Years Today (Sep 4 2009) Since the British Govt Politically Empowered MA Jinnah

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=407310716125

Monday, July 5, 2010

55) Justice & Afzal (Oct 14 2006)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=393914236125

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

56) A Brief History of Gilgit

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=336081356125

Monday, March 1, 2010

57)  India-USA interests: Elements of a serious Indian foreign policy (2007)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=299902341125

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

58) Ambassador Holbrooke’s error of historical fact

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=259713446125

Sunday, January 17, 2010

59) Of a new New Delhi myth & the success of the Univ of Hawaii 1986-1992 Pakistan project (Nov 15 2008)

https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=247284116125

Sunday, 10 January 2010

60) Was Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah (1905-1982), Lion of Kashmir, the greatest Muslim political leader of the 20th Century?

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=244956301125

Friday, January 8, 2010

61) On Indian Nationhood: From Tamils To Kashmiris & Assamese & Mizos To Sikhs & Goans (2007)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=222511821125

Friday, December 25, 2009

62) India has never, not once, initiated hostilities against Pakistan (2009)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=194400926125

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

63) RAND’s study of the Mumbai attacks (Jan 25 2009)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=189261716125

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

64) Memo to the Hon’ble Attorneys General of Pakistan & India (January 16 2009)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=189251816125

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

65) On Hindus and Muslims (2005)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=172649451125

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

66) Iqbal & Jinnah vs Rahmat Ali in Pakistan’s creation (2005)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=171039831125

Saturday, October 31, 2009

67) Have “mixed messages” caused a “double-bind” in the US-Pakistan relationship?

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=164051251125

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

68) Pakistan’s Kashmir obsession: Sheikh Abdullah Relied In Politics On The French Constitution, Not Islam (Feb 16 2008)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=154064436125

Thursday, October 8, 2009

69) Two cheers for Pakistan! (April 7 2008)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=154062896125

Thursday, October 8, 2009

70) What to tell Musharraf: Peace Is Impossible Without Non-Aggressive Pakistani Intentions (Dec 15 2006)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=153985256125

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

71) India’s Muslim Voices (Dec 4 2008)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=153977181125

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

72) Saving Pakistan: A Physicist/Political Philosopher May Represent Iqbal’s “Spirit of Modern Times” (2007)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=153971996125

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

73) The Greatest Pashtun: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988)

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=153812126125

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

74) KashNFL

The 5-Minute Negative Feedback Loop 2011 Model of Kashmir’s Problemss

“I’m on my way out”: Siddhartha Shankar Ray (1920-2010)

I  am grieved to hear of the death of Siddhartha Shankar Ray last night.

I was introduced to him by an uncle who had been his college-buddy, and he took up a grave personal matter of mine in the Supreme Court of India in 1990 with great kindness, charging me not a penny, being impressed by a little explicit “civil disobedience” I had had to show at the time towards Judge Evelyn Lance.

He also told me he and his wife had been in London on May 29 1984 and had seen *The Times*’s leader that day about my critique of Indian economic policy. He invited me to his Delhi home where I told him about the perestroika-for-India project I had led at the University of Hawaii since 1986, at which he, of his own accord, declared

“You must meet Rajiv Gandhi.  I will arrange a meeting”.

That led to my meeting with Rajiv Gandhi, then Congress President & Leader of the Opposition, on September 18 1990, which contributed to the origins of India’s 1991 economic reform as has been told elsewhere. https://independentindian.com/thoughts-words-deeds-my-work-1973-2010/rajiv-gandhi-and-the-origins-of-indias-1991-economic-reform/

Rajiv’s assistant George told me Rajiv had said he had not heard more fulsome praise.

In Bengal, he took me as a guest to visit the Legislative Assembly in session when he was Leader of the Opposition; it was the legislature of which my great grandfather, Surendranath Roy, had been a founder, being the first Deputy President and acting President too; Surendranath had been friends with his maternal grandfather, CR Das, leader of the Congress Party before MK Gandhi, and he said to me in the car heading to the legislature about that relationship in Bengal’s politics some seven decades earlier “They were friends”.

He introduced me to all the main leaders of the Bengal Congress at the time (except Mamata Banerjee who could not come) and I was tasked by him to write the manifesto for the State elections that year, which I did (in English, translated into Bangla by Professor Manjula Bose); the Communists won handily again but one of their leaders (Sailen Dasgupta) declared there had never been a State Congress manifesto of the sort before, being as it was an Orwell-like critique of Bengal’s Stalinism.

In a later conversation, I said to him I wished he be appointed envoy to Britain, he instead came to be appointed envoy to the USA.

In Washington in September 1993, he said “You must meet Manmohan Singh”, and invited me to a luncheon at the Ambassador’s Residence where, to Manmohan Singh and all his aides, he declared pointing at me

“The Congress manifesto (of 1991) was written on his (laptop) computer”.

In later years I kept him informed of developments and gave him my publications.   We last met in July last year where I gave him a copy, much to his delight, of *Margaret Thatcher’s Revolution: How it Happened and What it Meant*.

I said to him Bengal’s public finances were in abysmal condition, calling for emergency measures financially, and that Mamata Banerjee seemed to me to be someone who knew how to and would dislodge the Communists from their entrenched misgovernance of decades but not quite aware that dislodging a bad government politically was not the same thing as knowing how to govern properly oneself.

He,  again of his own accord, said immediately,

“I will call her and her main people to a meeting here so you can meet them and tell them that directly”.

It never transpired.

He and I were supposed to meet a few months ago but could not due to his poor health; on the phone in our last conversation I mentioned to him my plans of creating a Public Policy Institute — an idea he immediately and fully endorsed as being essential though adding

“I can’t be part of it,  I’m on my way out”.

“I’m on my way out”.   🙂

That was Siddhartha Shankar Ray — always intelligent, always good-humoured, always public-spirited, always a great Indian.

I shall miss a good friend, indeed my only friend among politicians other than the late Rajiv Gandhi himself.

Will the Telangana flare-up awaken New Delhi from its dream-world and into India’s political reality?

Subroto Roy thinks the flare-up of the Telangana issue has one and only one positive consequence: it brings home to New Delhi’s ruling elite that there are real political questions in India, and not everything can be left to spin-doctors and lobbyists to handle.

“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last.

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy  is hurt that Christopher Booker says “Not for nothing was Copenhagen the city in which Hans Andersen wrote his story about the Emperor whose people were brainwashed into believing that he was wearing a beautiful suit of clothes” because he always thought Hans Andersen meant it for modern New Delhi.

Annals of Diplomacy & International Relations

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy  finds it odd in diplomatic law and protocol that two American Presidents in succession have said respectively to the same Indian Prime Minister “You’re a good man” and a person of “honesty and integrity”.

Subroto Roy thinks Asia (from Israel-Palestine to Japan & Indonesia) needs its own Metternich and Congress of Vienna, but won’t get it and hence may remain many many decades behind Europe in political development. (And why Asia won’t get what Europe did may be because Europe did what it did.)

Subroto Roy agrees with Professor Juan Cole’s summary position: “India and Russia want an Obama ‘surge’ in Afghanistan because they are afraid that if Muslim extremists take over the country, that development could threaten their own security. China is more or less bankrolling the Afghanistan War…In contrast, Pakistan does not seem… eager for the further foreign troops, in part because it wants to project power and influence into Afghanistan itself”.  But he would add Russia, China, India and Iran too are free-riders from the military standpoint (though India has built power-stations, roads etc for civilian economic development), while Pakistan remains schizophrenic as to whether it wishes to define itself by the lights of Iqbal and Jinnah or by the lunacy of Rahmat Ali.